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Pahokee leaders removed, allegations of corruption surface

Pahokee leaders hold a special meeting on Aug. 11, 2021.jpg
Posted at 4:33 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 17:15:34-04

PAHOKEE, Fla. — Tensions are mounting in Pahokee after allegations of corruption and a number of city leaders being fired.

Passing through Pahokee, the small city on the shore of Lake Okeechobee appears quaint and quiet, business as usual.

But near the marina, a group of sheriff's deputies and police officers are stationed after the mayor declared a state of emergency, saying the city is in an uproar after several meetings held by city commissioners have turned tense.

Members of the commission held a special meeting Wednesday morning to officially fire city attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks and remove the Interim City Manager Rodney Lucas.

"He knew that his tenure was month-to-month. I would like to see us move forward very quickly with putting a permanent city manager in and I think this is the way to do it," said Vice Mayor Regina Bohlen.

But a number of residents like Patricia Wallace, believe the meeting was held illegally and without the proper notice.

"Who would have a meeting at 10:30 if you meant justice while all schools just reopened and while the whole community cannot come?" Wallace said.

But over the shouting, three commissioners confirmed the contract of Gary Brandenburg as the city attorney, as the interim city manager packed up his office and left city hall.

"I wasn't terminated. I don't recognize what happened today. It wasn't properly noticed," Lucas said.

Bohlen claims the city refused to open the chamber, but said the meeting is legal.

"It was advertised, it was called for by three commissioners, which is what the charter says has to happen," Bohlen said.

Now this small city is facing big challenges.

"There have been allegations of corruption. Do you believe there is corruption in Pahokee?" WPTV journalist Ryan Hughes asked.

"Yes sir, I do," Bohlen said.

A city in chaos as tthe commission tries to clean house.

For now, Gary Brandenburg -- the new city attorney -- has also been named the interim city manager until someone is hired full-time.

The locks have been changed at city hall and a town hall meeting has been set for Monday night.

Commissioners on Wednesday also voted to end the state of emergency in Pahokee.